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Increased digitisation to drive up Africa data center market

OPINION
By Fredrick Obura | February 15th 2021

Data centers are the heart of our online world. They store the data and increasingly they host the applications that we use to work, shop, and bank, and entertain ourselves.

According to market research company Gartner, the global data center market size is poised to hit US$200 billion by 2021.

Africa data center market size is expected to cross $3 billion by 2025, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 12 per cent during the forecast period.

The Africa data center industry has witnessed a steady interest from major global cloud service providers such as AWS and Microsoft, along with Huawei over the last five years.

The increasing demand for cloud-based services and modular data center solutions among enterprises, especially in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and government agencies, is expected to drive the market in Africa.

It is expected that over 70 per cent of organisations operating in the region will shift to the cloud region by 2025.

Kenya, South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, and Nigeria are at the forefront of improving the digital economy.

The data center industry is changing to serve the needs in today’s business landscape. It comes as no surprise when we hear organisations discuss their plans to enhance their data center infrastructure with technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and focus on automation to improve uptime while controlling costs --all of which are important for companies to drive operational efficiency and business resiliency.

The current pandemic is driving forward-looking companies to become increasingly interested in predictive technology and remote capabilities in data centers.

The ability of the IT department to predict disruptions and unplanned downtime can potentially minimise the impact on the business, especially in today’s environment that is riddled with uncertainties.

According to analyst firm Aberdeen Research, depending on the industry, business interruptions can cost a company as much as $260,000 an hour.

AI and Machine Learning in Data Centers Over the years

AI and machine learning have witnessed significant development and have now become smarter than before. In the case of data centers, algorithms that have been built for task automation and predictive maintenance is becoming more refined, therefore enabling IT departments to focus less on routine tasks and more on future planning.

Algorithms will leverage historical data to predict more accurately when maintenance is required. Therefore, not only can they alert IT departments that something is about to fail, but these intelligent systems can also, minimize the chances of failure thanks to data-driven predictive maintenance models.

Proactive insights on critical assets can help IT staff manage the health and availability of an IT environment. These insights provide them with the ability to deliver actionable real-time recommendations to optimise data center performance, mitigate risk and ensure uptime.

In the wake of the pandemic, companies that relied on on-site data center support staff soon realized they had limited or no visibility into their data center operations. With a cloud-based, next-generation management platform, IT support staff can now manage sites remotely and more importantly, in a much safer manner.

Better Data Center Performance with Predictive Capability

“Increasing the intelligence and automation of the physical infrastructure and management systems enable data centers to be more reliable and efficient both in terms of energy use and operations. This also enables the collection and analysis of data that can lead to better performance with predictive capability. There has been a surge in colocation data center investment in markets such as Kenya, Nigeria, Morocco, and Senegal in the past two years. Governments are taking initiatives to increase the share of renewable energy in the electricity generation,” said Schneider Electric CEO Carol Koech.

“Increased digitisation in African countries, the adoption of cloud-based services, migration from server rooms to managed, colocation, and hybrid infrastructure services are driving the investment in the Africa data center market,” she added.

AI and machine learning will underpin the next generation of what we think of now as data center infrastructure management.

Disruptive technologies like these will integrate people and processes resulting in a true digital data center.

As digital transformation progresses, we will see data center evolve based on real-world experience and are driven by demand for ever-higher levels of profitability.

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